I never thought I’d say this, but I miss shopping. It was a challenge before, but after this unintended hammer to businesses, large and small, the chore now seems a luxury.
I am not one of those who ever chose shopping as my No. 1 diversion. I particularly dislike window shopping when I’m broke. I think it’s the same as the pointlessness of looking at pictures of sexy men. I don’t care how pretty it is if I can’t take it home. My real problem is that I tend to shop when I need something specific and, as chain stores continue to close, this will require even more footwork.
Before I could even get back out there and be frustrated, JCPenney announced its departure. This store was my friend. From college days to kids’ clothes, it was my go-to. I truly do want to support the local small businesses, and will, but when I’m looking for a black cardigan sweater, I prefer to cut to the chase. And I will never be happy buying clothes online. Is it ever what you expected it to be? I would rather spend hours trying on everything in the store than have to fuss with return mail and printing out return labels.
My girlfriends and I all lamented the gradual carnivorous merging or closing of one department store after another. We aren’t elitist. We even miss Woolworth’s. While I chafe at schlepping miles of mall comparing prices, sizes, styles and quality, I still can’t bear to buy without seeing every possible choice. I revel in capitalism at its best. But that was when we had a choice of major department stores, each with its own personality and style.
We got dreamy-eyed as we reminisced about Bullocks Wilshire and its Tea Room. We each remembered riding an elevator to the top floor of a Buffums or The Broadway or Saks Fifth Avenue with our moms or grandmothers. Oh yeah, you were some kind of grown-up then. One mentioned her love of San Francisco, because you can still find Neiman’s, Saks and Nordstrom. Another fondly recalled Kansas City as the Hallmark center of the universe. New York has Bloomingdale’s.
But in recent years, Federated Stores absorbed I. Magnin and Bullocks. It then ate Robinson’s, which ate May Co., and then had some impact on Macy’s. And now Penney. East Germany had a better selection after World War II.
No matter how hard I try, I can’t get excited about a Walmart tearoom.
Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who misses her choices. Contact her at [email protected]